If you own a cell phone, it’s likely that you’ve heard of the Google Android. No, Android is not a giant robot constructed by the technology giant Google to take over the world. At least, it isn’t a giant robot. Google’s Android is a cell phone operating system that seeks to bring open source development to mobile devices.
What does Android, and open source, mean to me?
While having an open source cell phone may not immediately sound appealing, after all cell phones have worked great for years without open source, there are some distinct advantages to it. Firstly, with an open source environment, the sheer number of applications will increase, giving users greater choice when choosing which applications to download, not to mention that many of the choices are free. Secondly, applications should be available much sooner due to the ease of their creation. Third, and most importantly, open source application allows for the potential decrease of cell phone cost.
When cell phone companies charge for a phone, they also have to include in the cost the potential expenditure for research and development of all the programs that are included with the phone, as well as any futures upgrades that need to be made. With an open source phone, users are free to choose whatever applications they wish, and the charges for those applications are occurred only when the user chooses to pay for them. In this way, the cost of cell phones should reflect only the cost of the hardware. As a small bonus, open source development allows for further application-phone integration. Developers are free to take advantage of all of a phone’s features, such as access to notification bars and other applications embedded in the phone.
What can Android do?
Potentially, the Android system offers limitless possibilities when it comes to functionality. If someone can dream up an application, it can be made. Amidst a sea of applications available, a few are standing out and serve to show off Android’s power. The Weather Channel app allows users to check the weather in any city, not to mention 10-day forecasts and animated climate maps. Another handy app is Open Table. Unlike some traditional restaurant apps, Open Table does more than just allow you to check out reviews and menus. Open Table allows users to view available seating and make reservations without ever calling the restaurant. Not always necessary, a phone call still works, but definitely the first step towards exciting possibilities.
What can’t Android do?
There have been some limitations that have been found when using the Android system, including complaints that Google is handling customer service poorly, but through updates and new software, these limitations are usually addressed. Some users have complained that phones running the Android system carry lower call quality than those without, and despite all of Android’s features, a cell phone is still a phone. However, these problems seem to be a minority among heaps of praise for Google’s mobile operating system, and there is no doubt about the amount of effort going into making sure that Android is here to stay.